Bourbon fans often travel miles and miles before setting foot on the world-famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail. According to a research report by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association 70% of visitors on the Trail come from outside the state of Kentucky. With all those people traveling from out of state, an often-asked question is, “Where can I stay?”. The answer varies widely based on which distilleries the bourbon fans travels takes them around the state. If their starting point ends up being Bardstown, the “Bourbon Capital of the World” then the places to stay are somewhat limited.
The good news is, there will soon be a new place to stay, play and dine along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. In December 2021 a long-time Bardstown staple, Kurtz Restaurant and Bardstown Parkview Motel closed its doors for the last time. The restaurant and motel have been owned and operated by the Kurtz family since its founding 1937 but that changed as 2021 came to a close and the family sold the business to Weyland Ventures.
The Kurtz family started the business just four years after the end of Prohibition, using limestone quarried on their farm. Merrill Kurtz and his wife Annette built a two-story building in Bardstown, designating the upper level as the family home and the lower level as the Kurtz Restaurant.
Despite original plans to simply serve home-cooked meals to Bardstown patrons, the Kurtz Restaurant quickly became both a community staple and hot spot for tourists alike, regularly hosting celebrations like baptisms, weddings, and baby showers. In 1959, as automobile travel continued to grow and tourism became more widely feasible, the Kurtz family opened the one-story Bardstown Parkview Motel on an adjoining lot to fill the consequently growing demand for more lodging options in the area. The roadside motel opened on the same day the Stephen Foster Story outdoor drama debuted directly across the street at My Old Kentucky Home State Park.
What is a Motel?
A Motel, also called a Motor Lodge, Motor Court, Tourist Court or Motor Inn, according to Lexico, is a roadside hotel designed primarily for motorists, typically having the rooms arranged in a low building with parking directly outside. As the automobile became the main form of travel in the 1950s more and more motels started popping up along highways and tourist destinations.
Roadside motels are famous for their flashing red neon lights proclaiming VACANCY or if you were looking for a place to spend the night there is the dreaded NO VACANCY sign. In addition to the Vacancy sign there were the pre-requisite amenities like swimming pool, air conditioning, playground and the famous COLOR TV marque.
The family continued expanding with the completion of a two-story motel building in 1960 and a 17-foot addition to the restaurant’s façade in 1985. After 84 successful years, the Kurtz Restaurant and the Bardstown Parkview Motel officially closed in December 2021 but a revival is on the way.
What’s Next for this ‘National Register of Historic Places’ Restaurant & Motel?
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Now under new ownership, Weyland Ventures a Louisville, Kentucky based real-estate development firm has big plans to bring this site that is on the National Register of Places back to life. The beloved community fixture will be restored as a full-service, bourbon-focused boutique lodging development to address the growing demand for dining and lodging options specific to bourbon-related tourism in the state.
Bardstown Motor Lodge – Renovations are under way to create a 35-unit bespoke hotel experience.
Toogie’s Table Restaurant – The reimagined property will feature the chef-led farm-to-table restaurant. Home of the legendary “skillet-fried chicken,” Toogie’s is a community of foodies, travelers and bourbon epicures with a passion for good people and good food.
Bardstown Swim Club – The Swim Club, complete with a resort-style pool, tanning deck, and outdoor bar, sits steps from the expansive outdoor gathering lounge.
The Courtyard – Will be the modern version of the playground complete with firepits and 2,000 square feet of catered event space for private events.
Bardstown Motor Lodge is set to open its doors for hotel guests in the Fall of 2022, with Toogie’s Table opening in late August, just ahead of the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival. This property is the first of a series of boutique hotels in development by Weyland Ventures under its newly launched Common Bond Hotels Collection banner.
“We are excited for guests and friends to enjoy a space as unique as Bardstown Motor Lodge,” said Weyland Ventures CEO Mariah Weyland. “Drawing inspiration from the history of this special property, we reimagined a guest experience befitting this legacy. The heart and soul of this project focus on comfort and community. We wanted to capture the authentic spirit of the people and culture of Kentucky and Bourbon Country and create a place where all could gather to relax, recharge, and reconnect.”
Monarch Private Capital, a nationally recognized ESG investment firm that develops, finances and manages a diversified portfolio of projects that generate both federal and state tax credits, worked on the closing of historic rehabilitation tax credit (HTC) equity for the $6.3 million adaptive reuse of the former Bardstown Parkview Motel and Kurtz Restaurant in Bardstown, Kentucky’s beautiful historic district.
“Monarch is honored to take part in the historic preservation of such a longtime pillar of the Bardstown community,” said Rick Chukas, Partner & Managing Director of Historic Tax Credits at Monarch. “The property itself evokes a bit of nostalgia, having been in the Kurtz family for four generations and now a part of the Bardstown Local Historic District. Its historical context and proximity to distilleries along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail position it to endure as a valuable contributing member of the Bardstown community for future generations.”
Bardstown Motor Lodge is situated along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, the area’s primary driver of tourism, bringing thousands of people a year to the city. With 11 distilleries now located in the Bardstown/Nelson County area, it’s become a multi-day excursion for visitors, highlighting the need for more lodging and dining options, specifically those that cater to the bourbon tourist. Bardstown Motor Lodge seeks to fill a significant gap in the market, slated to become the area’s first full-service boutique hotel and restaurant intentionally designed to accommodate and elevate the bourbon tourism industry.
The project is expected to generate over $4.5 million in state income and create more than 100 jobs in construction and the ongoing operations and maintenance of the redeveloped property.
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